Neve Campbell
David Arquette
Courtney Cox
Patrick Dempsey
Scott Foley
Parker Posey
Lance Henriksen
Emily Mortimer
Deon Richmond
Liev Schreiber
Jenny McCarthy

Wes Craven

"Psychos can't kill what they can't find."
Time: 116 mins.
Rating: R
Official Web Site
Genre: Horror
Since I'm a big fan of SCREAM – it scared me silly though not as much as HALLOWEEN – I've felt compelled to see its' sequels. Though not as shocking, exciting or gory as the first, I still found myself wondering how this story was going to play out. I can't say I was surprised, but they certainly did have a plan, which was quite intricate and well-conceived. The overall motive for the mass-murders and mayhem is quite old-school and somewhat obvious, but Craven knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat and makes the ride pretty enjoyable. What keeps it fun are the franchise players – Campbell, Cox and Arquette. They're old friends you're glad to see still breathing, though you'd never invite them to stay over at your house. The addition of Parker Posey brings a fresh perspective to the story.

This installment finds us in Hollywood on the set of STAB 3, the movie about the events that occurred in SCREAM 2. Yes, the series is eating itself. The opening sequence has several people getting fileted just like the first two films. Since you know it's coming, it's not as shocking, but you still watch with horror. I have to say that this film overall, beginning with the initial murders, is half as bloody as the original. I'm generally not a fan of excessive gore, but in the case of this film, the lack of blood makes the killings less emotionally impactful. They're over so quickly you don't have a chance to wallow in the horror of it all. It just screams, kindler, gentler cinema. Things don't have to be gory to be powerful, Hitchcock's films are great examples, but when you're making a genre horror picture, if you're not going to be over-the-top gross, you better make the murders at least unique. That doesn't happen here.

The murderer is obsessed with Sidney's mother and he's going to continue killing off the cast of STAB 3 unless she shows herself. Dewey, now a consultant for the film, tries to convince her to stay away, but as the bodies begin to pile up, she finds she has to uncover the truth. Never far away from a good, bloody story, is Gail Weathers, reporter without a soul, called in by the police to help solve the current murders. She's surprised to encounter Dewey, whom she begrudgingly broke up with, and disgusted to meet her onscreen alter ego actress Jennifer Jolie (Posey). Jennifer's enthusiasm to capture the "true essence" of her, makes Gail even more unfriendly, if that's possible. It seems that the killer has a plan and no one is safe, not the real characters or the actors portraying them. The motley crew bands together, under protest, to try to find the killer before he reaches them.

Tired of fighting her demons alone, Sidney joins the search, but she's still unsure who she can trust...besides Dewey and Gail. Since they've killed major stars indiscriminately in the past, you're unsure who's going to make it out of this one alive. Unfortunately, they don't carry through in this installment. There's a point where you think "Oh my god!", but it's just a trick of the story. I didn't quite believe it when it happened, but part of me was hoping that it was true. The other part wanted a happy ending. SCREAM 3 is mainly about Sidney tackling her demons and coming to terms with her past and her relationship with her mother. She may not have known everything about her, but that doesn't mean her mother didn't love her.

Most of the humor in this version comes from the newbies to the franchise – Jenny McCarthy, as an aging actress tired of taking her clothes off for parts; Patrick Warburton, as the professional Hollywood protector of the stars whose arrogance is funny but deadly; and the always brilliant Parker Posey who wants the glamour and fame of Gail's life without the body count. Posey and Cox are great together. Someone should write a comedy for the two of them to star in. The film is a little uneven, its tone depending on which group of characters is onscreen. It's scary/serious when Sidney is in a scene, but scary/campy when the rest of the group does their thing. It's like they're not even in the same flick. Though she's the "star", Cambpell seems tired and out of place. She does a decent job, but you can tell she's down with this role. It was nice to see Patrick Dempsey working again in such a high-profile film. He's grown-up well and gives a nice bit of sex-appeal to the proceedings.

Overall, SCREAM 3 isn't a bad movie. In fact, I'm sure it's 10 times better than most of the other horror flicks appearing in the cineplex these days. Craven is a consummate professional who knows how to pull the strings. The special effects are really good and he still has a few tricks up his sleeve left for this installment. I guess I just wished for something more original in the end. Everything comes together just a little too cleanly for my tastes. If you're a fan of the series and haven't seen this film, do yourself a favor and tie up the loose ends. You won't be surprised, but you will be satisfied. If you haven't seen the series, and don't mind a lot of blood and guts, it's a great way to spend some fun time. Rarely do trilogies of any genre come together so nicely.